Echoes of An Angel

Echoes of an Angel is the story of Ben Underwood, a young man who lost his eyesight due to retinal cancer and then learned to find his way around in the world using human echolocation. (Echolocation is sending out sound (clicking) and listening to the echo to find objects) Due to echolocation, Ben could ride a bike, roller blade, and get himself around without the aid of a cane, among many other amazing feats. He became world famous and made appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, and was invited to speak around the world.

Ben was also remarkable for his positive attitude and faith in Christ.

Just as remarkable in my opinion is story of his mother, Aquanetta Gordon and her journey in raising her “handicapped” son.

The Lord spoke three things to Aquanetta on the morning three-year-old Ben underwent surgery to have his second eye removed due to retinal cancer, rendering him completely blind.

  • Ben will live and not die
  • Ben will see again
  • And this isn’t for you

Aquanetta’s story demonstrates how these words played out in her life. Ben did live through the surgery. Despite total, irreversible blindness, the degree to which he was able to see, both spiritually and physically, was amazing. And she felt that the gift that was Ben was not for her benefit, but  to all of those who knew him, and to the glory of God.

I was interested in this book because I also have raised children with special needs. Aquanetta’s goal for Ben was to raise him to be as independent as possible.  She didn’t want him to be handicapped by his condition. She expected just as much from him as from her other children. And while she gladly worked with his therapists, teachers, and schools, she also let them know when they overstepped their bounds. She was a very good advocate for Ben.

This book provides an unblinking look at Aquanetta’s troubled past, as well as the difficulties of dealing with retinal cancer and the blindness that followed. Aquanetta tells us about her tears, her fears, and frustrations; but also about the ways that God worked in her life and Ben’s life. God used many people to encourage her, Ben being one of the biggest encouragers.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

***(I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Momentum in exchange for my review).

 

 

 

 

 

D-Day

“When you find yourself getting cynical, think of these men.”
President Barack Obama, Normandy, France. June 6, 2014.

I woke up this morning to these words at about 5:00 a.m.

Instead of their normal morning news, Fox 17 in Grand Rapids chose to broadcast the President’s speech in Normandy, France, this morning at the 70th anniversary of D-day. A good choice in my opinion.

He called them liberators. They gave everything so that we could be free.

Never forget.

memorials

A Summer Without The News?

Seems radical, doesn’t it?

When I was in college, one of my roommates never watched the news. She said it was too stressful and interfered with her sleep. That just didn’t make sense to me 30 years ago. How could you go about your life without knowing “what was going on? ” I couldn’t imagine myself being that ill informed. It makes sense now, though.

I started this blog in an effort to reduce the cynicism in my life. I realized it was a downward  drag on my life, and made me a bad influence on those around me. During the 2012 election, the cynical, lying ads from all sides of the political spectrum made me sick. So I decided that I was going on a journey – away from cynicism.

One way to combat cynicism is to control what goes into your mind. So, I stopped watching all cable TV news (which is generally an advertisement for one side or the other). Now when I turn on Fox News or CNN, I feel assaulted by either the whining or the shouting and turn it off after five minutes. Ugh. I still watch the local news, especially in the morning when it is “lighter.”

My friend posted a blog about giving up all news for the summer – a sabbatical from the news, so to speak –  http://trinkaj.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-news-free-summer.html.

Could I do it? Could you?

I am thinking about following my friend’s lead.

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Gifts From My Mother

My mother made a crocheted bag for me. I told her that she could sell them for $40 in boutiques. But she just enjoyed crocheting these and and enjoyed giving them away.  She is 79 now, and her hands shake too much to crochet anymore.

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She lined them, which made them extra nice.

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When my parents moved to Florida 18 years ago, my mother and father sold most of their furniture and household items. But they gave a few items to me and my siblings. The furniture they gave me wore out, but I still have this wonderful, heavy gauge pot, which in my house is used to make chicken and dumplings. The lid used to have a handle on the top made of an old wooden thread spool. A wonderful gift, and I think of my mother when I use it.

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When my parents entered their 40s, they took up new hobbies. My father began running, inspired by Jim Fix’s book, The Complete Book of Running. He ran the 10k River Bank Run in Grand Rapids for many years. My mother took an oil painting class when she was 40, and began painting landscapes, and giving them away as gifts. When they went camping in their RV, my mother would stand outside the camper at her easel painting. Many of the walkers in the campground would stop by to have a chat and see what she was up to. She was a very shy person, so this was a way to meet people.

The painting in the picture below is a gift from her, which hangs on a wall in my house. When I look at it, I remember a fishing trip to Mud Lake in the northern lower peninsula with my family and grandparents. There were black, dead trees in the water and along the shore. My brother told me that the lake had formed suddenly from a sinkhole, taking trees with it. There are a lot of sinkholes up north.

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The true gift of this painting is my parents’ sense of adventure and trying new things at their age. As I have gone through my 40s, I also started new things – going back to school, starting a new career, picking up the writing pen once again.

Do you have any gifts which have inspired you?

A Blessing

A couple of nights ago, I read a blog post on the elegance of bad poetry.* And it reminded me of an awful wonderful poem written by our friend, Pat Anton. Pat and Chris Anton were the master and mistress of ceremonies at our wedding. When Rick came to Grand Rapids from Lafayette, Indiana, to attend electronics school, he had nothing to his name. The Antons, along with many other people from Bethany Bible Church took him in, and were family to him. He became a Christian at Bethany.

At our wedding reception, Chris Anton read Pat’s poem to everyone:

It’s a Special Day, You’ll all agree
One we thought we’d never see.

The day that Rick would beam and glow
To be the hit of this particular show.

We all remember, if we take the time
When Rick appeared without a dime.

He became something special to everyone
We shared his laughter, his trials and fun.

We tried to help him in every way
Watching him grow, day by day.

And grow he did in his spiritual life
But he was always looking for a wife.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

I want to do something with my life
Pastor suggested Word of Life.

Pat agreed —Word of Life.
We’ll send you there to find a wife.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

Then on to College and still no direction
So back to Bethany with God’s protection.

Serving the church and serving the Lord.
But so unhappy and so very bored.

What shall I do? He used to say.
And Pat would say in her knowing way.

For every Jack, there’s a Jill.
If one won’t, the other will.

Great, said Rick, but when and where?
Hang on Rick and don’t despair.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

And wait he did until one night
When there appeared a Glorious sight.

Look! He said, the girl for me.
She’s pretty, She’s smart, her name is Cindy.

Here was Someone God Hid away
No more waiting day after day.

It didn’t take long for us to know
Rick had acquired a special glow.

And when we saw it wasn’t one sided,
Everyone got real excited.

The Date was set and finally arrived
Here sits Rick with a wife at his side.

Tonight we salute Rick and his wife.
May God bless them all of their life.

Pat Anton, June 1985.

It was a precious gift to us.

Pat and Chris Anton

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*”The undoubted grandeur of really bad poetry” (http://universitydiary.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/the-undoubted-grandeur-of-really-bad-poetry/)

Think On These Things.

It’s not enough to turn away from cynicism in our lives. We also need to change our thought patterns and then our actions. We need good input so that good output will result.

In put

  • Read -
  1. the Bible – The whole story of redemption. Yes, there is evil recorded in the Bible – for our warning; but there is also the life giving record of God’s love, His provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  2. Books – Read books that are worth my time. If the book seems pointless, shallow, or delights in the dark side, stop reading it. Throw it away, if it belongs to me.
  3. Magazines and Newspapers – Read more positive articles. For me, anyway, stay away from critical, sarcastic, mean spirited, deceptive, articles. I already know most of these arguments and points of view.  Why repeat them in my mind?
  4. Blogs – The same as magazines reading.
  • Watch -
  1. Less TV, especially less TV about “reality” and politics. The spin stops here – in my choices. with a positive message. If I must watch the news, watch Fox 17, local news, especially in the morning. More TV like the Cosby’s, Mash, and nature/history. Otherwise, turn it off, or change the channel.
  2. Movies like Lincoln, The Lord of the Rings, The Help, The Holiday, Narnia, It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Fiddler on the Roof. Walk out of the theater if it is a bad movie. Don’t let a little money spent dictate what I fill my mind with.
  3. More theater productions, especially small theaters, college, and high school productions.
  • Listen -
  1. To others. Hear them.
  2. To radio that is encouraging, uplifting.
  3. Turn off radio that is sarcastic, mean spirited, cynical.
  4. Walk away from gossip, if possible.
  5. To music that encourages, builds up, teaches. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
  6. To live music – in concerts and at church.
  7. Myself – singing along, with others or alone

Out put -

  • Speaking -

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-31)

  • Writing
  1. Write about Sowing Mercy, Love, Kindness, Faith, Grace, etc.
  2. Reblog – Examples of sowing #1
  3. Quote the encouraging thoughts of others
  • Action
  1. Do – Knit, quilt, clean, exercise, garden, work.
  2. Give – The fruits of your doing
  3. Pray – for others. Prayer is not just speaking. It is doing.

All of this has been done before, written about, blogged about, and is currently being done. Well, here is one more voice, one more doing, one more change to add to that total. Hearing, seeing, doing combined is the most effective way to learn. By this time next year, I hope that I have learned some of these lessons.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9